The Sterlington baseball team enacted revenge for an extra-inning loss to West Monroe earlier this season by paying the Rebels back in a 7-3 victory Tuesday evening.

Sterlington got the better of West Monroe with a six-run third inning and another strong effort on the mound from senior Trey Rugg. And four of those runs came from Rugg, himself.

“I’ve been feeling good. I’ve been trying to just center some balls up,” Rugg said.

The first inning showed both the good and bad of the West Monroe Rebels in 2019. Carson Jones took advantage of a high fastball from Sterlington ace Rugg in the first inning and sent a solo shot to left-centerfield.

“I left the first pitch down the middle and not on the outside corner, and he’s going to ULL. That’s what he’s supposed to do with it,” Rugg said.

Then, after recording back-to-back outs in the bottom half of the inning, Case Roark beaned Sterlington’s Braden Hough on a 3-2 count. Davis Johnson followed with a single and Rugg scored Hough on an RBI double to tie the game.

Meanwhile, Sterlington played flawless defense through three. In the top of the third, Sterlington catcher Grant Mangrum threw out Josh Pearson on a steal attempt to end the inning.

Then the Panthers made their move in the bottom half of the inning as the bats came alive. Seaver Sheets singled and Braden Hough doubled before a throwing error scored Sheets. Rugg then helped his cause with a 3-run homer that put the Panthers on top, 5-1.

West Monroe’s Peyton Todd relieved Roark in the inning and struggled to locate. Todd walked in another run before Cole Brasher took the mound for the Rebels with the bases loaded and one out. The Panthers added another run with a Sheets sacrifice fly to take a 7-1 lead before Brasher got the final out of the inning.

As the Rebels typically do, West Monroe made a push for a big inning late. After Reed Eason walked, Pearson reached on an error with one out. Carson Jones singled in Eason, but Rugg got the next two batters to ground out and end the inning.

After the Rebels loaded the bases, Pearson singled in another run to draw the Rebels within four. Jones came back up to bat before Sterlington head coach Mark Sims met with Rugg and his defense.

“It was more on the line of telling the guys on defense to turn it up,” Sims said. “We’re still getting balls at the knees and getting ground balls. Rugg was fine. I told him on the last one, ‘Look, (Jones) already hit one out today. He’s fixing to try to tie this game up. Throw this thing a couple of inches outside and hopefully he pops it up.’ Rugg just made a real good pitch and got a real good hitter out. Those guys swing it better than anybody we’ve seen in the state this year.”

Rugg forced a groundout to end the game, as Sterlington improved to 22-4 on the season. West Monroe fell to 17-9.

Rugg allowed only six hits, and went 2-for-3 at the plate in the victory. 

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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